Upon arrival to the 24th Annual Greater Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival I was greeted at the south tent with the Dixieland Jazz sounds of Cornet Chop Suey. Their mix of cover songs and originals please the near capacity crowd. Tom Tuckers’ trumpet and vocals led the rest of his band mates through a cover of “Sweet Georgia Brown.” The band’s brand new song “Sweet Hearts On Parade” began with a marching drumbeat and coronet solo. A cover of Gerry Mulligan’s “Love In New Orleans” brought couples to the dance floor to embrace one another during the slow waltz. As the horn section scattered to the four corners of the tent, Cornet Chop Suey finished their set with one of the most beloved songs of all time, a jazzed-up version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” A well-deserved stand ovation followed the final notes.
Also performing that afternoon was acclaimed New Orleans jazz artist Louis Ford along with his band, The New Orleans Flairs. They brought the sounds of the deep-south up to central Connecticut. Their set began with each band member soloing during the opener “Blue Skies,” an Irving Berlin song made popular by Ella Fitzgerald. The band mixed the tempo of songs very well with the slow-swinging “Tin Roof Blues” and the jump to your feet rhythm of “Struttin’ With Some Barbeque.” Trombone player Frank Williams was featured on a couple of songs. His vocals on “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” mirrored that of the late, great Louis Armstrong and his trombone solo on “Tiger Rag,” brought people to their feet in applause. Louis Ford took center stage on the Fats Domino hit “Blueberry Hill.” Ford’s father played horns on the original recording of that and many other songs by Fats Domino. Ford and the band closed their set with a traditional New Orleans jazz favorite “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
Also performing at that same time was Dan Levinson’s Swing Wing. Their big band style jazz kept the make-shift dance floor busy the entire set. The songs”Side By Side” and George and Ira Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” were highlighted by the vocals of Molly Ryan. Also featured was Jim Friar’s vocals and trombone on the song, “Nobody’s Sweetheart Now.”
As one band would end, the next band would be ready to step up and keep the music flowing. The Dixieland style of The Galvanized Jazz Band took over the stage in the south tent to present some sing-along classics like “Oh Suzanna,” “Shortnin’ Bread,” and “Carolina In The Morning.” The Galvanized Jazz Band’s performance that afternoon stood true to the very meaning of the word “traditional.” With so many great songs in their repertoire, they easily became a fan favorite to many of the jazz patrons on hand. Their classic, fun-style brought back many memories to an earlier time in all our lives.
The combination of beautiful weather and great music made for a perfect weekend for the Greater Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival. Along with a great turnout, a repeat performance will be in order for next year.